Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Barter Your Way to Profits

Have you ever faced any of the following situations?
One: You need a lawyer but you don`t have the cash for
the retainer. Two: You have a warehouse full of
inventory that just isn`t moving. Three: Sales are
down and you need more customers.
Each of the above problems might be alleviated by
1. What Is Bartering?
Bartering is simply exchanging goods or services
without money.
For example, you give your accountant and his family
a meal in your restaurant in exchange for the
preparation of your income tax return. This is a
barter transaction because no cash changes hands
between the two parties.
2. Bartering Improves Liquidity and Profits
A shortage of cash is not an unusual situation for
either businesses or individuals. Perhaps you would
like to advertise in a certain publication but just
don`t have the money. Have you considered exchanging
something of value that you have (a service or product)
for the advertising you need?
Such a barter deal is mutually advantageous. Neither
party has to part with cash to obtain the desired goods
or services.
Not only does bartering conserve cash, but it can
actually generate sales and profits. Inventory turns
over more quickly. Service providers sell more of
their time than they would had they insisted on cash.
3. Bartering Creates New Customers
Notice, also, that both parties just made a sale to
someone they wouldn`t normally have. You both just
received a new customer.
If happy, your new customer can refer you to many
more customers, including ones who pay cash. Perhaps
your original barter customer may also start paying
cash in future transactions with you.
4. Barter Exchanges
In addition to trading with individuals and
businesses, you might consider joining a barter
A barter exchange is a business that facilitates the
exchange of goods and services between its members.
There are membership fees for joining. Also, the
barter exchange charges a commission on transactions
made through it.
5. Tax Aspects of Bartering
Barter transactions made by your business must be
reported for income tax purposes. Also sales taxes
may apply on such transactions.
For increased liquidity and new customers, consider
bartering your way to profits.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Drop Ship Your Way to Wealth

Your customer sees a marvelous array of products on
your website. After thoughtful consideration, she
purchases the product she wants. Amazingly, you
have never actually seen the product. That is
because your supplier shipped the order directly to
1. Problems With Stocking Inventory
After deciding what products you will sell, you are
immediately faced with many challenges.
First: "To stock my products, will I need to rent
store or warehouse space? I was hoping to sell
by Internet, mail order, or export, but I don`t
have much storage space for inventory at home."
Second: "Will the supplier even deal with me if
I don`t have a retail location? I was counting
on keeping my overhead down by operating from
Third: "I know that many manufacturers and
distributors have a minimum order, sometimes in the
thousands of dollars. I don`t have that kind
of money!"
Fourth: "Even if I did have the money, why should
I tie it up in inventory? How do I know if the
product will even sell?"
Fifth: "I guess I will have to add extra insurance
coverage for my inventory. Maybe I better upgrade
my security system while I`m at it."
Sixth: "The shipping charges are going to kill me.
First, I have to pay to get the goods here
(freight-in). Then, I have to pay to ship the goods
out to my customers (freight-out)."
Seventh: "If I expand and hire employees, how will
I control the inventory? How will I know if my
employees are stealing from me?"
Eighth: "How much time and money am I going to spend
packaging and fulfilling orders?"
These problems can be reduced or eliminated by drop
2. Drop Shipping to the Rescue
Drop shipping is a method of selling products
without stocking inventory yourself. You don`t need
to stock inventory, because you only order an item
when a customer requests it.
With drop shipping, when you make a sale you contact
the manufacturer or authorized distributor and make
arrangements to pay for the order at your wholesale
cost. Your distributor then ships the product to
the customer with your invoice and shipping label.
For example, let`s assume that you have just sold a
product to a customer for $100.00 plus shipping
charges of $15.00. Having received the customer`s
payment, you now need to fax or otherwise send your
order to your drop ship supplier. You will need to
pay your supplier, by credit card or other means,
your cost of $50.00 plus $15.00 shipping. This
leaves you a $50.00 gross profit. Your supplier
will now ship the product to your customer.
With this arrangement of not having to stock
inventory yourself, there are many advantages.
You eliminate the high costs of holding inventory.
There is no need for you to rent expensive storage
space, finance high minimum orders, get stuck with
goods that don`t sell, or pay other expenses
associated with maintaining inventory.
Indirectly, you do pay inventory costs. Your drop
ship supplier must maintain his inventory and pay
all associated costs, including freight-in, storage
space, insurance, accounting, shrinkage, and so on.
To make a profit, he must pass these costs on to you.
The real advantage to this drop shipping arrangement
lies in keeping your costs variable. Instead of being
stuck with these expenses up front, whether you sell
or not, you pay only when you make a sale.
3. Profit From Drop Shipping
Many legitimate drop ship suppliers may not require
you to have a retail location, but they will want to
see evidence that you are in business. They may
require you to produce a resale license or retail
sales tax permit.
To be sure, there are pitfalls to watch out for in
drop shipping. For example, some suppliers claim
to sell at wholesale prices but are actually selling
closer to retail. Also, margins are very slim in some
competitive areas, such as electronics. However,
with proper research and information, you should be
able to avoid these problems.
Whether from your home, retail store, directly from
your website or through an online auction, you can
arrange to sell an item before you purchase it. That
way you have nothing invested in inventory and won`t
get stuck with stock that won`t sell.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finding Balance In A Tilted World

THE STRUGGLE -- I was recently talking with one of my entrepreneur friends. He has started three businesses in the last several years--a budding entrepreneur. He was relating some of the joys he has experienced in those enterprises: a sense of freedom from the corporate world, pursuing his dreams and passions, setting his own schedule, controlling his destiny and a large potential for financial rewards.
However, he did mention a few downsides: little to no outside accountability, lack of consistent capital, feelings of loneliness, no steady revenue stream, feeling disconnected from others who don't understand his drive to succeed, constant struggles to survive and a severe lack of work-life balance. Sound familiar?
I think most entrepreneurs struggle with similar issues, especially balance. There are many reasons they can give for their lack of life balance and low satisfaction: "I have too much work to do. I just need a few more hours to finish this project. I need more money. I have bills to pay. My business depends on my hard work. My family needs more income. I am solely responsible for developing, marketing, selling and servicing my product or service."
Any or all of these reasons may be true, which might lead entrepreneurs to find great difficulty in managing the two sides of entrepreneurship--balance and success. How often do you struggle with working longer hours than you know you should to try and secure the next sale? How many times has your family and friends tried to pull you away from your office this last month? Take a moment and count up the actual hours you have spent working this last week or month. There is always the temptation to do a little more, work a little harder, talk to one more potential customer in hopes of making one more sale.
What specific things are you doing to take care of yourself: physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Many entrepreneurs overlook these vital areas of life in search of professional success, yet these areas are full of potential for sparking the creative, outside of the box thinking that leads entrepreneurs like yourself to discover life changing products and services and find a new perspective on your business venture.
Take a moment and write down these 8 life areas:
o friends & family
o fun & recreation
o physical environment & home
o romance & significant other
o fitness & health
o career
o finances
o personal & spiritual growth
Next to each area assess where you currently are. On a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being "completely dissatisfied" and 7 being "completely satisfied" mark how currently you are satisfied in each area. Add up the totals of all eight areas before reading further. The scoring is at the end of this article.
As you look at your current level of satisfaction what patters or themes do you see? Where areas are you the least satisfied with? The most?
For you who recognize a change is in order, here are a five simple steps to help you start finding the work-life balance that leads to success:
1. Choose 1 area that you are dissatisfied with and would like to see some immediate improvement in. This should not be your worst or best scoring area, but somewhere in the middle. Take a couple minutes and write down in detail what balance would look like for you in that area.
2. Now, get out your planner and make a note to yourself one week from today. In the note, write down:
o the area that you want to improve your level of satisfaction in
o the "score" where you are now and the "score" you want to be at the next week
o 2 things you are going to do to move yourself towards that goal over this next week
3. Tell someone about your goal and ask them to hold you accountable--whether it's a friend, a mentor, or your coach. It's easy to make "new year, new leaf" promises to yourself, but more difficult to follow through with unless you know someone is holding you accountable to reach your goal.
4. Set up a time to talk with your accountability partner the next week. Did you reach your goal? If not, talk about what kept you from reaching it and what will you do differently this next week. If you did reach your goal, congratulate yourself. Do something simple to celebrate your achievement.
5. The final step is to go back to step 1 and do it over again.
Creating life balance is never easy and it's never complete. There will always be room for improvement. The point is that you can make your life more balanced by taking small steps in the right direction. Like most worthwhile things in life, creating life balance is a process, not an event!
8--16 Wow! Things must be pretty rough right now.
17--30 Average score of many small business owners
30--45 There are some very satisfying and very dissatisfying areas in your life
45--56 You recognize the importance of life balance to life success

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Conference Call Etiquette

The curse of every hard working manager. Love or hate them, with geographically dispersed teams and travel restrictions, conference calls are here to stay as a communication medium in the workplace. If you want to stand out from your work colleagues, then follow these simple do's and don'ts of effective conference calls.
Here are my favourite conference call experiences;
· a barking dog drowns out the key discussion point, bad enough, but the owner then starts shouting at his pet.
· a thirsty caller uses the hold button whilst slipping out to get a drink, unaware hold music starts playing to everyone on the call.
· a talkative colleague uses the mute button to moan about the call, stopping you answering the question from the senior manager you are trying to impress.
Obviously I would discourage all these career limiting behaviours, so what are the do's and don'ts of effective conference calls?
Do get comfortable with the fact you will be talking in front of a group and receiving no visual cues or feedback.
Do use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room.
Don't use cell phones or phones that pick up background noise. Calling from an open plan office is the equivalent of having a conversation in a nightclub. If you really can't find a quiet room, use the mute button until you are required to speak.
To avoid a Homer Simpson style "Doh" moment, do learn to use the mute button and other phone technology. Your intelligent contributions mean nothing if no one can hear them.
Do set up the meeting in advance and communicate the dial in number, passcodes and other information. "Spring forward, fall back" is something to keep in mind for your timezone crossing colleagues. Don't work out time differences on your fingers - check on the internet or even phone a colleague in that country and ask what time it is!
Do start the meeting absolutely on time; don't reward latecomers' bad behaviour by waiting for them. Take a role call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees. Go on, get tough, people will love you for it!
Do treat the conference call as if it were a meeting. You know the routine; prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes ya-de-ya-de-ya.
Do get each caller to say hello and introduce themselves. Even though you may never meet in person, it's a good relationship builder and gets the shyest of people to at least say their name.
Don't assume everyone recognises your voice. Unless you are dis-respecting the boss and want to stay incognito, say your name before you speak. This is particularly important for the poor soul taking meeting notes.
Do make use of guest speakers. Invite a special or important guest and get them to say a few words at the beginning of the meeting. No one will know they slipped out after five minutes and you'll get the benefit of undivided attention and best behaviour.
Don't allow the topic to wander. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove - polite but firm if people talk too long or over each other. If your callers are at home sitting in their pyjamas nursing a hot chocolate, be considerate that all they want is to go to bed.
Do ask for input by using a person's name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.
Don't shuffle papers; scrape chairs, pencil tap, hum or other distracting, noisy activities. It...drives...people...mad!
Do close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time. That little bit of recognition will make them feel good about talking to you again.
And that's about it. Apart from one very personal tip. Do not sit on a leather chair. Ever. The problem is each time you move around, an embarrassing noise that's at just the right frequency to carry well over the phone is emitted. Either you brazen it out and suffer the comments about your defective digestive system, or sit rigid until the call is over. If you only take one piece of advice make sure it's this - do use fabric covered seats!